This guest post is by Doug Petrick, a member of HSRC, and the boys and girls track and cross country coach at Upper St. Clair High School, in Pennsylvania.
“One of my primary goals…is to do everything I can to make sure every girl who comes to our program has the opportunity to run at a college or university if she wants to, and run better at the college or university than she did in high school. Because if she doesn’t continue to improve, I feel like I’ve disserviced her.” Anyone that truly understands distance running, should hold a similar long term view of training high school athletes. Dr. Jeffrey Messer of Desert Vista High School, without a doubt one of the best high school coaches in the US, shared his long term view of training on High School Running Coach.
As a member of High School Running Coach, I’ve had access to Dr. Messer’s training and philosophy for success. Dr. Messer has had numerous accolades over his tenure at Desert Vista. One example is in 2013 his girls cross country team won the Arizona state championship- quite a feat. During the Spring of 2014, the Desert Vista girls distance program was ranked as one of only two programs in the “top ten” groups in the 800 meters, 1600 meters, and 3200 meters. During this past cross country season, Desert Vista finished sixth as a team at Nike Cross Nationals. Even more impressive is the fact that Dr. Messer’s runners have continued to flourish as runners beyond the high school setting.
One of the keys to his success is using the opposite of what most coaches would call periodization. While at Desert Vista High School, Dr. Messer created a culture that stressed the importance of working all energy systems year-round for his runners. Always on the cutting edge of sports science, Dr. Messer has allowed his methods to evolve to get the best out of his runners in an intelligent way. Strength training is another critical element that has led Desert Vista on the path to distance running success. Not only does Dr. Messer know the science that backs up incorporating strength training, but understands how the ordered placement of strength training exercises within a session can be be manipulated to achieve maximum results. During the podcast on the site, he goes into detail about the importance of this timing at the physiological level. Since Dr. Messer states that, “distance runners are in the business of building mitochondria,” he also places a high emphasis on the long run for his athletes. Long runs are structured to allow each runner to progress over the course of the fall season, and continue improving that stimulus year round. [Read more…]